China Blog #1
And so ends my second day of our crazy-cross-china journey; and boy these past few days have been rough.
We started with catching Hong Kong's MTR up to the LoWu station. At this station we can cross over into the chinese city of Shenzhen, and out of the special administrative region that is Hong Kong. Once crossing the border (which was easy) we stood in a long line immediately so that we could grab the train to our first (temporary) destination - Guangzhou.
After a 2 hour train ride at 160 km/h we arrived at the Guangzhou railway station. Let me just say this - I no longer fear hell, because I've been there already. Over the next five hours, we stood in torturously long and slow moving lines towards tiny ticket windows. The ground littered with people's forgotten garbage, year old dirt and saliva - the air riddled with a thick haze of cigarette smoke. We waited in these lines on three separate occasions as people around us screamed
at others for cutting in line, or something else. Once we arrived at the window we found…
Hold Up - we've got a breaking new development… I've just descended into a new layer of hell, but more on that later…
Anyways, once we arrived at the window, we found that there were only three tickets left for the four of us on the train leaving tonight… Fantastic. Any buses? Nope. Any trains to anywhere tonight? Nope.
Long story short, we booked four seats on the train to Zhangjiajie in a language we didn't understand, and got out of the station as fast as we possibly could.
Looking around for a little while we found a 'hotel' online for the night, and walked over. The clerk at the desk however didn't seem to know that the complex was a hotel and not just apartments. With a little Mandarin magic thanks to Pamela though, it was all sorted out, and we had a really nice room for cheap, complete with a kitchenette and a washer/dryer machine.
The next morning we explored the city, but due to the wet season it was raining all day. We did however get shown around by Phoebe - a friend of Sanne's, eat at a great restaurant, and check out a shopping centre/night club… I'm still not sure which.
After that, we reluctantly returned to the train station so we could catch our train out of the city, where I was writing this up until the point in which I descended deeper into hell.
Just when we thought it couldn't get worse, we discovered our seats for the next four hours were hard plastic, 90 degree, non-reclining seats in a crowded double decker 200 person car filled with people who felt compelled to carry on a 100 decibel conversation, and poke us every 15 minutes to buy something.
Still not sure how we made it, but we did, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
A separate note on HSBC
Despite being the "Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation" you might find yourself unable to withdraw money from your own account from HSBC machines and banks in China - despite the machine showing you your balance. If you find yourself in this situation like I did, you should call your mother and have her transfer you money in a cash advance - like I did. Thanks Mum!
I've got far too many complaints on HSBC, but this post is too negative already - more to come - I'm keeping it to the truth, but it wasn't all bad - trust me.